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Staying Fit Could Help Steer Clear of Genetic Heart Diseases

It takes a special person to enjoy every single workout every single time. You’re only human, right? So getting frustrated, angry, sleepy, teary, competitive and exhausted is all part of the process. That said, so is feeling happy, accomplished and proud when you make it to the end of your workout.

And if you’re the kind that hates exercising with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, this piece.. erm, well I hope gets you right on back track (no pun intended).

A new study indicates exercise may be the best way to keep off heart disease- even for those with a genetic pre-disposition.

“The main message of this study is that genetic risk isn’t deterministic,” says Erik Ingelsson, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine and lead author of the study published in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation. “Even if your parents died early of heart disease, you can reduce your risk to the level of someone with no family history of the disease by increasing your fitness.” 

This study further buoys what I’ve always said—that exercise is good for everyone and everything,” says

Consumer Reports’ chief medical advisor Marvin M. Lipman, M.D.

In one of the largest observational studies on fitness and heart disease, researchers examined data collected from nearly a half-million people in the UK Biobank database. The investigators found that people with higher levels of grip strength, physical activity, and cardiorespiratory fitness had reduced risks of heart attacks and stroke, even if they had a genetic predisposition for heart disease.

For participants deemed at intermediate genetic risk for cardiovascular diseases, those with the strongest grips were 36 percent less likely to develop coronary heart disease and had a 46 percent reduction in their risk for atrial fibrillation compared with study participants who had the same genetic risk and the weakest grips. Researchers determined various levels of genetic risk according to measurements based on discoveries from genomewide association studies, the most common study design to discover genetic variation associated with disease.

The study authors explained that the results of this research could have important implications for public health, especially considering the fact that little is known about the effects of exercise in individuals who have genetically inherited a risk of cardiovascular disease.

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